Let’s be honest: You’ve got a bit of stress and craziness in your life. That’s likely why you’re here — for strategies on how to simplify your life!
I guarantee you — a simpler life is attainable. These 10 ways to stress less and live more simply are excellent steps to get there.
All of these simple living tips have made a huge impact on my life.
I'm happier. More focused. More laid-back and carefree. There's just not as much to stress about now I've adopted these simple living practices!
Let’s be clear here: simplifying life does not mean stress slides off you like you’ve gained an unpoppable simple living bubble that protects you from life. Unplanned events still pop up. Best intentions don’t always pan out. Clutter and unnecessary stuff and distractions burrow in.
But simplifying your life means those things are easier to handle. I find that living simply, I have a much easier time letting go of frantic feelings. When shit happens, I deal with it and move on without it festering like an open wound.
One more thing before we head into the weeds. I’m not perfect at all of these things! I still struggle with my fair share of clearing out the clutter - mental and otherwise - to keep my daily life simple.
But overall? I’d say I live a pretty simple life, and I’m SO grateful for that.
1. Let go of extra things
Yes, I’m pretty sure every article on the internet about simplifying life is required to include at least one bullet point about getting rid of your stuff. Most of us can get on board with the idea that we have too much stuff.
By the time I moved in with my partner, I had moved once a year since moving out of my parents' house. And I'd come to realize that every year, I was moving boxes I hadn't even unpacked.
Why the heck was I still moving this stuff? Instead of bringing it with when my partner and I moved in together, I donated it all, and more.
Since then, I'm wildly practical with my stuff. Why own a printer if I only use it once a year? Why keep a closet full of clothes I only kind of like?
This is an ever-changing work in progress to clear the extra stuff out. But the payoff for me is clear. I can't pinpoint the psychological reasons why (but researchers have an idea), but I feel happier when my counters and tabletops are clear and the floor isn't cluttered.
Every ting just seems simpler without so much stuff.
I get it. It’s challenging to carve out time and truly sift through your stuff. The good news is, there are many strategies out there, from pulling off the band-aid and tackling the big items first to starting with something small and simple like your purse or handbag. Just start — today — donating, giving away, or throwing out some of the extra things you don’t need.
2. Purchase intentionally
Once you get rid of the clutter and extra stuff, you’ve got to prevent it from piling up again. I challenge you to think intentionally about your purchases from here on out.
Sure, that throw pillow at Target is super cute, but do you REALLY need it? Can you picture exactly where it will go? Are you willing to get rid of another throw pillow to make room for the new one?
Overall, I find that when I make intentional purchasing a priority, I spend less time shopping. I don’t need new clothes every month, so I don’t waste my time shopping for them unless it’s my once-a-year wardrobe refresh.
Maybe that sounds a little extreme to you — but the goal is to waste less time shopping, stop continually stuffing your home with more stuff, and keeping things simple.
3. Adopt a gratitude practice
Research continually shows that those who practice gratitude regularly are more positive and generally happier. The great news? Gratitude practices can be crazy simple and once you’re in the habit, the payoff is HUGE.
Your practice can be as simple as starting or ending the day by writing down three things you’re grateful for. For example, today I might write down:
- I’m grateful that it’s above 0 degrees F AGAIN today!
- I’m grateful that I’m having coffee with some badass entrepreneurs today.
- I’m grateful that I get to spend the evening with my spouse.
Of course, the “3 things I’m grateful for” habit is just one way to start a gratitude practice. You can tie a gratitude practice to meditation, a morning mantra, morning pages, or evening journaling.
The point is to weave gratitude into your everyday life somehow so you can reap the benefits of positive thinking.
4. Prioritize paying off debt
Most of us have debt we’re managing — car payments, student loans, mortgages, credit card payments, business loans. Most of us also accept this as “the way life is.” Debt is unavoidable.
I’m here to challenge that. For me, simplifying life means simplifying finances. Simplifying finances, in turn, means slashing unnessecary monthly bills… meaning that eventually, I’ll spend less every month and not feel pressured to continually make more money (you know, to turn around and spend the extra amount you make on MORE bills).
I’m not out to dictate how to accomplish this. Just like decluttering, there are so many strategies you can use to start paying down your debts and start towards a debt-free lifestyle.
This is just a little push to consider how much simpler life would be if you weren’t bogged down with credit card payments, car payments, and a mortgage eating up your income.
5. Focus on one task at a time
Want to feel less frazzled in your day-to-day life? Focusing on one task at a time makes a HUGE impact on how scattered you feel.
This means cutting out distractions. Stop telling yourself you can multitask (hint: you’re not as good at it as you think you are). Keep only ONE TAB open in your browser.
I’ll fully admit that this is something I’m STILL working on. As I write this, I have 8 tabs open (actually a low number for me!) that I tell myself I NEED to have open. But really, if I’m trying to focus on writing, why bother keeping that other stuff just a click away from a neverending tunnel of distraction?
The one task at a time practice keeps you focused and maximizes productivity. No more lying in bed at night wondering how you managed to run around all day not actually completing anything!
6. Protect your time
Learn to say “no” to commitments you don’t truly want to be part of. But in addition, learn your limits and say “no” to things you might want to do, but can’t currently fit into your schedule.
Where my boss ladies at? I think we’re especially prey to taking on evermore commitments and finding ourselves overworked, overbooked, overwhelmed. We want to be able to “do it all” and end up stretching ourselves thin, even for the tasks we WANT to complete.
Now, truly believe life moves in seasons. Life won’t always be slow and simple, but protecting your time and identifying when you need less on your plate or more time for self care are valuable skills for living more simply.
7. Limit social media time
Most of us (me included!) would admit that they spend more time on social media than is necessary.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not here to say that we should all quit social media and boycott it. There are lots of wonderful things about social media — I’ve connected with numerous people I’d never have met if not for social media, not to mention that a BIG part of my job relies on social media!
But it’s all too easy to hit up Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter as an easy distraction. You pop in just to see if you have notifications and end up scrolling for half an hour. You fall into the comparison trap—why doesn’t my life look like THAT?—and end up feeling a lot less grateful.
By approaching social media more intentionally, you free yourself from the constant distraction and rat race.
8. Aim for enough quality sleep
A bit part of living simply is caring for your mental and physical wellbeing. Sleep is a HUGE part of that.
Life as a whole feels more stressful when you’re exhausted. Simpler tasks seem harder, people get on your nerves more, and it’s hard to get up and move when your body is desperate for sleep.
Quality and quantity of sleep are both important. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep. And besides the quantity, do what you can to make sure you’re getting quality sleep, too — which means putting your phone on silent, avoiding screens before bed, or taking up an evening meditation practice.
9. Cultivate interpersonal relationships
As you’re spending less time on social media, I encourage you to instead keep up with friends and acquaintances through meaningful in-person gatherings.
Invite your friends over for dinner—it doesn’t have to be fancy! Get coffee with someone you want to get to know better. Invite a friend to come to a community event with you. Ask a coworker out to lunch.
There are so many ways to cultivate interpersonal relationships with people, but so many of us turn to Facebook or other digital media instead.
The more time you spend interacting with people, the more you come to appreciate others.
10. Start now
The final piece to the puzzle—start now. What takeaway from this list can you implement today?
I’m not suggesting you drop everything right now and flip your life on its head. That wouldn’t be a life lived more simply, would it?
Instead, take a baby step. Maybe you can text a friend right now to set up a coffee date. Maybe you can go through a drawer in your kitchen a clear out the clutter. Tonight, you can write down 3 things you’re grateful for.
Start small, and slowly add in new habits and practices to move toward a more simple life. But START! Reading about simple living won’t change the pace of your life — you’ve got to start somewhere.
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